I have chosen modularity as the graphic element for Visibility.
A module is a fixed element used within a larger system or structure. The example the graphic design book gives is that of a pixel. Many pixels work together to create a digital image. Modules can be found in many places. For example, a brick wall is made up of bricks. Each brick is a module.
In Soliloquy, the author’s modules are words. Each word is a fixed unit that builds up a sentence. The sentences are also modules. These sentences work together to create dialogue.
The author, Kenneth Goldsmith, highlights the use of modules in dialogue. You can only see one sentence at a time. By highlighting a single sentence on the page, Goldsmith is highlighting the module. No longer do we focus on the dialogue. But, instead we focus on each sentence on its own.
I chose Soliloquy as an example of visibility in E-literature.
In Soliloquy the author, Kenneth Goldsmith, recorded everything he said for a week. He then wrote all of it down. You click on a day of the week to get his sentences from that day. But only the first sentence stays stagnate on the page. The other sentences only become visible when you move your mouse over it, and then disappears again once you move your mouse away.
Calvino warns of a future where we are inundated with visual images. Due to all of the visual images we will no longer have to exercise our ability to create images in our mind.
However, Soliloquy does not inundate us with images. Instead, it uses simplistic design to give us single sentences. From these few sentences we must fill in the blanks. What did the person before him say? What did they say after? What was he doing? We can also use our imaginations and make up our own scenarios and visual images based on the single sentence.
Calvion believes we have two options for the future. We can start recycling images or we can get rid of all of our images and start over. Goldsmith is starting over. He has wiped the slate clean and removed all of the images from his work. He is relying on the imaginations of the viewer to produce their own visual ideas in the minds. His words are the catalyst. But, they have been broken apart, sentence by sentence, so that what was actually being talked about no longer matters.
My analogy for visibility is the refraction of light. One of my favorite movies growing up was Pollyanna. Pollyanna moves into town to live with her aunt. Her aunt’s next door neighbor is a crotchety old man. Against his will, Pollyanna starts coming over to visit him. He has crystals all over his house and Pollyanna is mesmerized by them. Through these crystals and Pollyanna’s imagination she is able to befriend the old neighbor.
When a light shines into a crystal, the crystal refracts the light and creates a rainbow. The original white light that shines into the crystal is made up of all the colors of the rainbow. Each of these lights have different lengths, but when they all come together they create white light. Thus when they hit the crystal, it causes them to refract at different angles because of their individual different lengths. This is similar to the idea of visibility. A single word, image, shape, etc. can be presented to your mind. Your mind, also known as the crystal, takes the idea and breaks it apart into endless other ideas.
For example, one sentence in Soliloquy is “I have to get some new clothes”. When this sentence enters our imagination, our minds can take it in trillions of different ways based on our life experiences and ideas. I could create a story from this one sentence. He has to get some new clothes because his ex-wife poured black ink all over his clothes. She broke into his home one night while he was staying with his sick aunt. The ex-wife thought he had already found a new girlfriend… And so on. Your imagination breaks apart the sentence, just as crystals, break apart the while light to show the colors of the rainbow.
My emblem for visibility is play dough. In Soliloquy, the author allows you to move the mouse over the sentences in the conversations he had for the whole week. The lack of visual images in the piece and the break down of his conversations, sentence-by-sentence, allows the reader to visualize and interpret each sentence for their self. This is important to Calvino because he believes our society provides us with so many images that we no longer have to visualize things in our head and use our imagination. When I used to play with play dough with my sister, we would create a scene together. We would always add on more play dough or morph each other’s creations. This is similar to what Soliloquy asks you to do. The author gives you a sentence, the original play dough creation, and we must morph or add-on to his initial sentence. Just as my sister and I used to do to each other’ play dough creations.
Dante believes our imagination “rains down from the heavens”.
Calvino believes in two types of an “imaginative process”. One that begins with the visual image and arrives at words, and the other begins with words and ends at a visual image.
The basic example he gives is when we read. We read words and they become visual images in our minds.
When we watch a movie we are watching a director’s visual imagination before our eyes. A director takes a written script and creates a visual image.
A childhood favorite, The Wizard of Oz, is a great example of both types of imaginative processes.
The author L. Frank Baum had a visual image in his head of a story, he then created it into words. The director, Victor Fleming, took these words and created his own visual image which became the movie.
Calvino’s emblem for visibility is a comic strip. When he was younger, he would ignore the captions on comic strips, and write his own. He was letting a visual image become words through this process.
Calvino fears a future lacking visibility.
If I have included visibility in my list of values to be saved, it is to give warning of the danger we run in losing a basic human faculty: the power of bringing visions into focus with our eyes shut, of bringing forth forms and colors from the lines of black letters on a white page, and in fact of thinking in terms of images.